Mineral Ridge also is considered a potential threat with 14 lettermen back.
By JOHN KOVACH
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
The general consensus among Inter-County League football coaches is that South Range High, loaded with veterans, is the team to beat this season.
The Raiders from North Lima, coached by Dan Yeagley, return 12 starters, seven of them playing both ways, from last year's team that went 8-3, including 6-1 in the ICL for runner-up behind Springfield (7-0).
South Range also qualified for the playoffs, losing the first game to Massillon Tuslaw, 37-28.
The dean: Yeagley, the dean of ICL coaches in his seventh season, has back 18 lettermen in all. The Raiders open the season Friday at home against East Palestine.
Springfield, which went undefeated (10-0) during the regular season and 12-1 overall under coach Doug Phillips, will be rebuilding this year under new mentor Joe Stevens. Phillips shifted to the Salem High coaching job.
The Tigers of New Middletown, who won two playoff games before losing a regional final, lost almost two dozen seniors to graduation and have a lot of positions to fill.
Springfield unleashed a powerful offense that produced 430 points -- 33.1 a game -- while allowing 151 (11.6 a game).
In the playoffs, the Tigers defeated Windham (49-20) and Massillon Tuslaw (28-21), before bowing to Chanel in a state quarterfinal, 25-13.
Contender: ICL coaches also believe that Lowellville will be a strong contender with 11 lettermen back from a team that went 6-4, (3-4 in the ICL) under coach John Protopapa, who returns for his second season.
McDonald, guided by second-year coach Dan Williams, and Mineral Ridge, under rookie mentor Joe Stevens, also are viewed as challengers.
The Blue Devils have three starters and five other lettermen encoring from a squad that enjoyed a 9-3 record last year, including 5-2 for third place in the ICL.
McDonald also made the playoffs and beat Gibsonburg, 28-10, before bowing to Mogadore, 18-6.
New threat: Mineral Ridge also is considered a potential threat with 14 lettermen back, including four starters, from last year's unit that went 5-5 and 4-3 in the loop.
Besides having a new coach in Stevens, the Rams will be playing in a new football stadium that is part of the Joe Lane Sports Complex.
Jackson-Milton also has a new coach in Alan Mikovich, while other ICL mentors Brian Bosheff of Mathews and Mark Morris of Western Reserve are in their third seasons.